SHERIDAN, MI – Lugging plastic shopping bags filled with hot dishes and baked goods, Laura Grenhoe stopped by the Martin farm outside of this central Michigan farming town for a quick visit on Tuesday, Oct. 31.
Grenhoe was among dozens of neighbors who have stopped by with a kind word and a helping hand after the Martin family was torn apart Sunday morning when a pickup truck struck the family’s horse-drawn buggy, killing three of their seven children and severely injuring the parents, Paul and Judith Martin.
“We lost a son 25 years ago,” said Grenhoe as she stood in the doorway of the white farmhouse and transferred her treats to relatives who are caring for family. “You can’t make it better. You just give them hugs and say a prayer for them.”
Ruthie Martin, Judith Martin’s aunt who came in from Liberty, Kentucky on Monday, was presiding over the household with Judith’s sister, Aleda, and two of the surviving children, 18-month-old Trina Grace, and 3-year-old Ammon, who was released from the hospital Monday after he suffered a concussion and still bore bruises from the crash.
Ammon is still gaining an understanding of the results of the accident, in which his 7-year-old sister, his 9-year-old sister and 11-year-old brother were killed, Ruthie Martin said.
Paul Martin was transferred from a Flint hospital to Spectrum Health on Monday, Aleda Martin said. The 40-year-old dairy farmer suffered head injuries and is expected to recover, she said.
Police said a Dodge truck driven by Brandon King, 29, of Sheridan, was eastbound on Condensery Road in Bushnell Township when it struck the rear of the Martin family’s buggy. The crash remains under investigation.
Ever since, neighbors and fellow church members have pitched in to feed and milk the family’s 65 dairy cows, which must be milked twice a day.
“They have a lot of friends and relatives who are helping out,” said Ruthie Martin, dressed in a simple housedress and bonnet as she greeted visitors and folded laundry on the home’s big kitchen table.
In the village of Sheridan, the tragedy has been the talk of the town as locals gather around the community table at the Dogtown Restaurant, said waitress Mary Powell.
“Some people talk about how they wish they had lights on their buggies,” said Powell of the Amish and Mennonite farmers in their midst. “Others are saying people need to slow down, that they have just as much right to the road as we do.”
Though the Mennonite community keeps to themselves and rarely frequent the restaurant, Powell said most townsfolk agree the Martin family needs their help.